Caretaker sentenced to prison for leaving special needs man inside hot van to go to mall

- A Maryland woman who was hired to care for a special needs adult, but ended up leaving him in a hot vehicle outside for hours while she went to the mall will spend the next year and a half in prison.

Afia Abour was sentenced on Friday by a Montgomery County judge after pleading guilty in March to second-degree vulnerable adult neglect.

The 26-year-old victim, Brett Campbell, faces more challenges than most people. He has cerebral palsy, is non-verbal, requires a wheelchair to get around and needs continual care.

Last August, Abour left Campbell behind inside a van in the parking lot of Lakeforest Mall in Gaithersburg on a day where temperatures rose above 90 degrees.

Brett’s parents were on their anniversary trip to Italy when they got the call that their son was the victim of neglect.

“It was devastating to see video of my son being pulled out from the emergency vehicles,” said Lynne Campbell, Brett’s mother. “I obviously haven’t seen any of that and it was also devastating to watch the videos of her walking around the mall enjoying herself and socializing with her friends.”

A Good Samaritan spotted Brett inside the van passed out. That person called paramedics.

During interrogation, Abour told police she was gone for 30 minutes. But mall surveillance video reportedly indicated that she was inside for two-and-a-half hours.

“I can say we were shocked,” said Brett’s mother. “Absolutely shocked that he made it through this trauma.”

“We were very pleased with the sentencing,” said Campbell’s father, Rick. “She got five years with three-and-a-half years suspended. So even with good time, she will do 12 to 14 months in jail. I think that satisfied what we wanted. We wanted her to have to go to jail for some period of time and then also send a message out to the people out in the community.”

“For a woman to leave this young man in a steaming hot van with temperatures approaching 120-plus degrees, it's like torture,” said Ramon Korionoff, spokesperson for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. “This kind of neglect is criminal and that is why the judge handed down the sentence she did today.”

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